Have you been out to see the Albion Community Gardens? A lot of work has gone into preparing to actually plant this garden: legal paperwork, removal of trees and stumps, plowing and picking up of garbage accumulated over the past decades, so much glass, the planning of the garden layout with paths and garden plots, obtaining water, and writing grants. The work continues with Randy and Lisa weeding and putting wood chips out on the paths; Dick purchasing a new John Deere tractor and attachments with our United Thank Offering grant and trying to keep the grass and weeds under control; Dick and Willie Tabb are busy this week putting up 1100 feet of fencing and Trisha has planted a cover crop of buckwheat in the unplanted areas. This is in addition to the actual planting of perennials such as strawberries, asparagus and blackberries and planting and maintaining this year’s crop of heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, beans, carrots and so much more.
In planting our seeds we carefully delimited our plots, hoed a straight row and individually planted each seed or seedling. This is in sharp contrast to the sower as depicted in this morning’s gospel reading of the Parable of the Sower and an interpretation. A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson and a parable is a story to make us think. The sower freely and abundantly casts the seed far and wide without discrimination. Some of the soil is hard packed, shallow and rocky or weed infested with thistles, mustard and burdocks, but other soil is fertile and hospitable to the growth of the seed. Why did the sower not first work and amend the soil pulling the weeds and thistles and gathering the stones? Why would she waste perfectly good seed on clearly inhospitable land? Did he feel moved to feed the birds, mice and wildlife that lived in his field? Did she consider that the plants that grew and quickly died would help to amend the soil for future plantings? What does this parable have to say to us in the 21st century?
This parable tells us about the generosity of God. God freely casts the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven far and wide to all people not just the Jewish people, but to the Gentiles as well. In some places the message will be immediately rejected. In others the message will be joyfully received, but will soon be replaced by the message of the next travelling evangelist or by the worries and hardships of work and family. And yet for others the message will be received, encouraged and survive to produce abundant fruits of the spirit. The crop will not just be a respectable seven-fold but will be a generous 30, 60 or even 100-fold return. God is generous in spreading the Good News as well as in providing a hospitable environment for the growth and spread of the Good News to the ends of the earth. God promised Abraham land, descendants and blessings, and not just blessings for his own family but for the nations.
So what does this parable say to us in the 21st century? As the soil, I pray we are fertile, loamy soil in which the word of God can thrive and grow producing flowers and seeds to be cast far and wide, producing the fruit of the spirit: joy, love, compassion, kindness, peace, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, longsuffering and temperance. As the seed I hope we can provide nourishment to the hungry, compost and nutrients for an arid, barren soil, an alternate worldview to our secular, consumer-driven society and that we breed true to the image of God.
As the sower may we spread the word of God freely without reservation or judgment. It is not for us to save people, that is God’s work. Our work is to proclaim the gospel and sit back and watch for the results knowing that we may never know the outcome of our work. You may have heard stories of teachers hearing from long ago students thanking them for a kind word of encouragement. In the same way we do not know the impact or long term effects of a kind word to the cashier or a generous gift to a stranger or the ripple effect of our actions.
God is generous and so as creatures created in God’s image we too should be generous. God is love and so as God’s sons and daughters we should genuinely show compassion and kindness to others. God loves you and me and so as the sower in this morning’s parable we too should sow the seeds of love towards our neighbor, our God and ourselves. Amen.
Mother Darlene Kuhn
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